Multimedia Help: A Literature Survey and a Preliminary Experimental Design

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Sukaviriya, Piyawadee (Noi)
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Multimedia has become widely accepted as an effective interface for exploratory education. Despite this fact, little is known about this new form of interface - in which context is it appropriate and which media should be used for presenting what kinds of information. Designing a multimedia interface is currently based on programmer's intuitions and, increasingly, design skills of graphic artists and educators whose experiences are on designing presentations on media. Multimedia applied to a help interface is a dynamic form of communication capable of bringing as many medium as appropriate into use. However, lack of understanding of the tie between efficacy in learning in a multiple-media help environment and effectiveness in user's operational performance implies a need of studies to understand this relationship. What we want in the long run from these studies is a model which would help predict the relationship between how users learn from different and intergrated media and translate the information learned into activities required to operate in interface environments. Sun has a strong interest in supporting multimedia help in order to ease the learning process of the increasingly more sophisticated OPEN LOOK environment; the target audience are non-technical users. The objective of this Collaborative Research (CR) between Georgia Tech and SunSoft, Inc. is to investigate through conducting an experiment effectiveness of various mappings from help information to media. The investigation will explore, singularly and in combination, use of media such as text, static graphics, video, speech audio, and context-sensitive animation, in the context of online help. Expected results are experimental data analysis, discrete recommendations for integration of multimedia to Sun online help support, and the software architecture for a multimedia help prototype to be developed for the experiment.
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